Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press
Critical Essays, Reviews
Literature, Literary History, Literary Study

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Excellent post, and just in keeping with my much less professional postings going on right now regarding the art of critiquing. I'll be quoting from this and linking back to it if you don't mind.


Excellent: Gass came immediately to mind as I was somewhere toward the end of the second paragraph of your post. As my eye tried to cheat and skip ahead, I was delighted to see The Tunnel ahead...

I was fascinated a few years ago by Gass' Finding A Form collection and was then pleased to find his other collections for cheap. His wonderfully chewy prose ("chewy" sounds like a word I likely stole from Gass himself) and critical insights have definitely opened up new ways (for me) of reading and appreciating fiction (and, naturally, new and different fiction to read, the ever-expanding list). I would like to nominate his introduction to The Recognitions as a must-read in its own right.

Have you read Harry Mathews' collection The Case of the Persevering Maltese (Dalkey, natch)? I've not yet read the whole thing, because it's a relatively recent purchase (and, anyway, much of it is surely over my head for the moment, but then reading such things is more than a little important). In any event, I'd particularly like to draw your attention to "For Prizewinners", the opening piece, even though it's really 'only' a talk. Good stuff, I think. I was reading some of this book at the same time I was reading several of the essays in Sorrentino's Something Said, which I also find to be full of provocative insights... (to be sure, by the way, your recent listing of ten books of literary criticism has been appended to my own list of books to look into)...

Thanks for the nice post again.

Daniel Green

I have not read Mathews's criticism, but I do like his fiction. I share your enthusiasm for Something Said. It is a very fine book, and I considered putting it on my list, actually.


This is one area, I think, where many American woman poet/critics have distinguished themselves. I'm thinking of Didion and Oates, specifically, and to a lesser extent Sontag.

Daniel Green

I think Sontag is actually the better example. I'm not so sure about Oates and Didion--the latter mostly writes cultural and political journalism.


Thanks as always for the thoughtful posts, Dan. Have long admired Gass (especially enjoyed his book on Rilke, who I've always loved) but haven't cracked the cover on his fiction yet. You've definitely nudged me in that direction.

Matt Cheney

Thanks for mentioning Gass, Dan. He's one of those writers I find fascinating even when I disagree with him or don't have a clue what he's getting at. I used to think that about Cynthia Ozick, but I'm less enthralled by her writing now than I once was. Paul West and Charles Baxter have both also done some interesting critical writing, and J.M. Coetzee seems these days to be writing criticism thinly disguised as fiction.


very informal......

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